Dr. Selena Kiser
Second grade teacher; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
- February 17, 2021
- Professional Development
What is Zoom Fatigue?
Zoom fatigue is prevalent due to so many of our social encounters now moving online. While this type of video conferencing has been a lifeline for many, it also can be quite draining. Communication has never been easier, but people are relying on Zoom for work, school, and extra-curricular activities instead of getting together in person. The on-screen relationships do not provide the positive social stimulation and energy that you obtain from being together in person.
This is especially true for teachers and students. Novice and experienced teachers know that students learn best while being directly involved in the learning process. Teachers cannot read body language as they would in a face-to-face setting, and this is a disadvantage to video conferencing. By not being able to look into students’ eyes or picking up on social cues, this allows disengagement, fatigue, and loss of participation. Students are also young people, and they need consistent interaction and involvement while paying attention to the length and duration of online learning assignments.
While there are obvious reasons why Zoom fatigue is real, there are also scientific reasons as well that explain why we feel exhausted. According to Lee (2020), audio has been proposed as the main reason that video meetings are tiring. The millisecond delays negatively affect our interpersonal perceptions. This is without any technical issues or delays. Zoom meetings are here to stay in some capacity. In speaking with various educators, some have Zoom meetings most of their day. It is vital to find ways to combat Zoom fatigue and make it more engaging.
Tips to Prevent Zoom Fatigue
One of the simplest ways to fight Zoom fatigue is to turn on the camera to be more present and engaged. While sometimes this is not an option, being on camera allows everyone to be more involved and on target. Fatigue sets in during long periods of time on video conferencing, and below are ideas to combat the mental exhaustion from Zoom meetings:
Create Breakout Rooms when Applicable
This is a great way to simulate the traditional breakout or small-group sessions that many are used to when meeting in person. Many classes or meeting are generalized, and people lose interest if they are not directly involved in the discussion. Breakout rooms or breaking things down into smaller discussions can be more engaging for the people involved in the meeting. Teachers can use this in a myriad of ways for small-group learning. An example of this would be to work with a group of students that are on the same reading level, or work with students in an upper-level middle-school classroom on their math skills.
Build in Interaction
This is an effective way to allow students and teachers to listen intently and provide meaningful discussion within a Zoom meeting. Just as teachers realize that students will learn more when they are directly involved in the learning process, the same rule applies to teachers. Meeting participants will learn more when they are directly involved in the discussion in a Zoom meeting. Preparing specific questions or allowing students to question others is an effective example of how this creates positive interaction in a class meeting.
Set a Theme for the Zoom Meeting
Sometimes class meetings have information for the whole group and there is no way to break things down for a smaller group. Implementing a theme such as a tropical destination or something that everyone enjoys would be a neat twist on the traditional meetings. This can be as simple as changing the background or everyone wearing a themed top and something on their faces such as sunglasses, hats, or similar. These types of interactions are especially enjoyable for students. Another great idea would be to allow the students to decide on what theme to implement.
Implement Surveys During the Meeting and Utilize Feedback
These can be provided within the Zoom meetings to get immediate feedback from students. They can be distributed to students, parents, and other teachers. It is important to utilize the feedback to make necessary improvements. Feedback and ideas from fellow teaching colleagues, students, and parents is an amazingly effective measure in continual improvement and engagement in online learning.
Utilize pre-recorded videos where applicable so students can view this on their own time. Students have different levels of engagement and attention spans. Pre-recorded videos allow students and parents to complete the assignments on their own time. Providing a variety of assignments is also important in that one format is not always the only way to demonstrate a lesson. This perception goes back to teaching to different learning styles. While teachers are more limited in what can be done, they can still provide a variety of options when completing online lessons. Videos, written work, and allowing students to decide the best option are all ways to fight the arduousness of online learning.
Lee, Jena (2020.) A Neuropsychological Exploration of Zoom Fatigue. Psychiatric Times.
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